Oliver Reed may be one of the most interesting people I have witnessed interviewed on television. Yes he was offensive to some and a bit of a male chauvinist. You never knew if he was going to be sauced or not. He exuded loads of self confidence which made him come off as a bit cocky at times. What can’t be argued with is that he never failed to entertain his audience.
Who can forget Oliver locking horns with a feisty Shelley Winters on the Johnny Carson Show, which climaxed with Ms. Winters tossing her glass of Whiskey over Reed’s head. Crossing swords with David Letterman on Late Night. During the interview Letterman was visibly nervous and feared Reed was about to punch him.
Reed was one of England’s top thespian exports dominating the biggest films of the 1960’s and 1970’s. At one time he was seriously being considered to replace Sean Connery as Ian Fleming’s James Bond. You see Reed had that perfect combination of wit and brawn and loads of style which was essential for anyone looking to fill James Bond’s shoes. But that was not to be.
Story has it that the producers felt that he was to loose of a cannon. Oliver liked his drink and he loved him some ladies. The most dangerous threat was his very sharp tongue. So much so that he was seen as a bit of a liability.
This did not stop him from gracing the celluloid of some of the most memorable films of the era.
Women In Love(1969)
The Devils (1971)
The Hunting Party (1971)
The Three Muskateers (1973)
Oliver Reed’s Famous Quotes:
“You meet a better class of people in pubs.”
“Nicholson [Jack Nicholson]? As far as I’m concerned, he’s a balding midget. He stands five-foot-seven, you know. He tries to play heavies and doesn’t quite make it.”
“I do not live in the world of sobriety.”
“My only regret is that I didn’t drink every pub dry and sleep with every woman on the planet.”
“I’m not a villain. I’ve never hurt anyone. I’m just a tawdry character who explodes now and again.”
“Life shouldn’t be about sitting around staring at frosted glass. Life should be lived and that’s all there is to it.”
Oliver passed away in 1999 while shooting Ridley Scott’s film “Gladiator.” Scott dedicated the film to Oliver. Of all places to die fate chose a pub for Oliver. He had stepped into a tavern in Malta to have some drinks with his wife and succumbed to a fatal heart attack at the age of 62.